Friday, December 18, 2009

A picture is worth a thousand words...or maybe millions in this case.

We were in the Brussels airport and saw this Accenture advertisement. Click the photo to see a larger view. It certainly is "what you do next that counts" Mr. Woods. How prescient this advert was!

p.s. We landed safely in Cincinnati and are recovering from some nasty colds, but happy to be home for the holidays!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Its begining to look a lot like Christmas...

We woke up this morning to snow...and it snowed all day long! We are packing and getting ready to catch our flight in....12 hours! To our family-See you soon!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Further proof that Hungarians are nice people

The title of this post may seem odd to some of our readers. Do we have to offer "proof" that Hungarians are nice? We offer proof to to convince Hungarians that they are nice people. Some Hungarians take pleasure in the belief that they are not friendly, but the reality is otherwise. Hungarians we know are often surprised to hear that overall we are treated respectively and pleasantly when on the street, traveling on public transportation, in a shop, etc. Now of course, we live in a large city and anywhere in a large urban area people are less friendly then say in the countryside. Also, Hungarians aren't yet winning awards for top customer service or highly efficiency check-out lanes at the grocery store or Post Office. All this said, Hungarians offer--from an American point-of-view--a 1950's style of saying hello, goodbye, opening doors, helping mothers with strollers and offering their seat on the bus.

So here is proof: Steven was taking the bus back into town yesterday. He had a heavy backpack with him, but it was manageable. Having waited less than 10-minutes for the bus, he boarded the rather crowded bus. He stood next to a woman likely in her late 60s. She had two large bags with her. As a seat opened, Steven maneuvered to allow her to take the seat that was near him. Steven's behavior is expected in Hungarian more as duty then perhaps being "nice." The older woman then insisted that Steven rest his backpack on her leg. Steven kindly declined, but she insisted grabbing the bag and then holding the bag for the 15-minute journey to the center. Upon exiting he thanked her and she without any fanfare said it was nothing and rushed out the door with her two large bags.

Can you imagine such nice behavior where you live?

It is important to note perhaps why we believe Hungarians are nice. We believe that 'you get what you give' as well as you 'you see what you want to see.' If you are kind, you often receive that kindness back. If you are always looking for what is bad in the world, you will likely find it. We try to be kind and look for the good.

This wasn't Steven's bus but you can get a sense how we travel around Budapest.

We like that the buses are called Ikarus which we assume came from Icarus, a character in a Greek mythology. Trying to escape their prison and return home, Icarus and his father crafted wings held together by wax so to fly away. Icarus defied his father's warning to not fly too close to the sun. Icarus's wings fell apart and he died. Moral of the story: Listen to your father. We wonder if the bus name,Ikarus, is poking fund at some paternal authority.
We just hope the bus doesn't fly too close to the sun!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

More Santa Claus sightings!

Steven's father, Richard--aka Santa Claus--is rode into town recently on a shiny red fire engine. No need for Rudolf when you have an ear-splitting siren and lights. Read the story here.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Steven's father = Santa Claus?!

You saw in our last post that Diane aspires to be Santa Clause...and for good reasons. Just look how everyone is all smiles. Steven's father, Richard, has been playing Santa for several years now. He also raises donations for his "Santa Fund" that raises money to buy presents for children who would otherwise not enjoy a gift under their Christmas tree.

Recent photo of Santa (Richard) recently appearing
in Wilmington News Journal article

Friday, December 4, 2009

Ho! Ho! Ho!

I had a great day today that I want to share with you.

I am a member (and board member) of the North American Women’s Association (NAWA). We work with two groups of people-children and seniors. This time of year is very special for NAWA members. We put together gift bags full of candy and toys for the children, and blankets, coffee and chocolate for the seniors. We then visit the orphanages and nursing homes, dress like Santa and deliver the gifts.

Today we had a short board meeting and then we were heading to the nursing homes. During the board meeting Susan (who was suppose to be Santa) mentioned that the costume was too big for her-did anyone else want to be Santa. Honestly, I don’t know why my hand went up but the next thing I know I am dressing in a Santa suit.

I have been trying to get into the Christmas spirit this year...there is no better way to get out of the rut of “Bah Humbug” then to dress like Santa and receive, smiles, hugs and kisses from 50 seniors. It was a fantastic and exhausting day. We walked from room to room singing Christmas carols, handing out mandarins, bananas and gift bags full of goodies. The ladies and gentlemen were so touched by our intentions. There was huge smiles, bits of laughter and a few tears. It was an amazing day.

Santa and fellow NAWA members

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Christmas Markets: part 2

As promised more photos from the Vienna Christmas market-this time with our friends Jeremy and Zsuzsa.
My lovely husband never likes his picture taken so this is what I get...
Meat! Zsuzsa's heaven;)
Ok, this is not the Christmas Market but a Starbucks in Vienna! Strange to be in a place that looks like a Starbucks, tastes like a Starbucks, smells like a Starbucks but sounds like Vienna (lots of German being spoken).